Bloodshot (China/United States, 2020)March 12, 2020
Bloodshot suffers from a world-building failure. With
too little time and emphasis placed on crafting the setting and exploring some
of the rich possibilities of the milieu in which events transpire, the movie
turns into little more than a ho-hum Vin Diesel action film. Had the movie been
made 30+ years ago, it likely would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger; there
are some narrative similarities to Total Recall, a science fiction film
that spent more time focused on Schwarzenegger’s biceps and Sharon Stone’s
cleavage than on far more interesting things associated with the core
technology of memory implantation.
In the past, Diesel has shown an affinity for science
fiction and his Riddick films (Pitch Black in particular) have
represented some of his best acting. Unfortunately, Bloodshot (based on
the comic book) dispenses with the kind of narrative exploration that would
make the setting feel like something more substantive than cobbled-together
elements taken off a generic “futuristic technology” shelf. To do so would take
time away from the repetitive action/fight sequences.
Bloodshot deals with the concept of implanted
memories. Ray Garrision (Diesel) is a KIA soldier. Before dying, he watches as
his beloved wife, Gina (Talulah Riley), is brutally murdered. He becomes the
first successful “resurrection” of a black ops think tank headed by the
mysterious Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and his beautiful assistant, KT (Eiza
Gonzalez). His memory is a blank slate but his body has been technologically enhanced.
His bloodstream is filled with nanites that immediately repair any damage done
to his flesh. He also possesses superhuman strength and the ability to have Internet
access plugged directly into his brain. Ray gradually begins to remember bits
and pieces from his previous life and his first memories are of Gina’s death. He
becomes obsessed with finding her killer and getting revenge. But are those
memories his or have they been implanted by Harting for purposes of his own?
Bloodshot owes as much to standard superhero tropes
as it does to science fiction properties like Total Recall. Ray is a
Wolverine-type character and his foes, like Sam Heughan’s Jimmy Dalton, are
equally superhuman, with cybernetic upgrades that make them difficult to stop
and almost impossible to kill. The film’s centerpiece action scene, a fight
scene atop a skyscraper elevator between Ray, Dalton, and another enhanced man,
feels like it could have been lifted from any DC or Marvel movie.
There’s not much suspense in Bloodshot. The main
character has already died and can apparently die repeatedly (and be brought
back) even after being in the blast range of a nasty bomb. The nanites in his
blood allow him to heal gruesome wounds (such as half of his head being blown
apart), essentially making him invulnerable. With such a thinly drawn character,
there’s not much to latch onto and little reason to care about Ray. If he gets killed,
so what? He’ll just come back. KT is more interesting but, because this is a
Vin Diesel movie and she’s a woman, she’s just given token sidekick stuff to
The film’s violence pushes the PG-13 envelope to its limits.
I suppose that making Ray cybernetic allows the filmmakers to get away with
some gory stuff. There’s also a “sweet” sex scene in which director Dave Wilson
(making his feature film debut) choreographs the action so that actress Talulah
Riley’s nipples remain hidden. At its heart, Bloodshot wants to be
R-rated. It probably should be R-rated but the filmmakers didn’t want to lose
the all-important teen male component of their audience.
Despite offering the promise of something new and interesting (and the way in which implanted memories are used – to provide an assassin with new targets – is fertile ground), the premise becomes little more than a device by which the filmmakers can get Vin Diesel to flex his muscles, sneer into the camera, and engage in CGI-crafted, gravity-defying fights with other equally unexpressive actors. The whole thing feels stale and familiar and is hardly a good reason to seek out a movie theater where Bloodshot is playing. Director Dave Wilson cut his teeth working in the video game industry (primarily for Blur Studio) and this movie has all the strengths and weaknesses one might reasonably expect from someone whose background is in visual effects and not storytelling.
Bloodshot (China/United States, 2020)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Guy Pearce, Sam Heughan, Talulah Riley, Toby Kebbell, Lamorne Morris
Screenplay: Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, based on the comic book by Kevin VanHook, Bob Layton, and Don Perlin
Cinematography: Steve Jablonsky
Music: Jacques Jouffret
U.S. Distributor: Columbia Pictures
U.S. Release Date: 2020-03-13
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Content, Nudity)
Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Baby Driver (2017)
- (There are no more better movies of Eiza Gonzalez)